We were just about done with our roll call when my boss, to be conversational, checked in with the recreational staff about the flag football league. It was going well with 32 offenders involved. We were about to get up when Lucy chimed in, “Uh, is there an age limit to play?” Say what? Nearly everyone in the room visibly twitched. The average age of our offenders is 18, and most are released around their 21st birthday. So no, NO, we do not have an age limit. She should understand this twenty years into the program.
Back in the staff room, four of us were using the computers when Lucy walked in. Usually I ignore her, but the announcement over the intercom system broke through my bubble. Oh no, I thought. “Anyone with the book The Book of Pi needs to turn it in to the staff desk today,” she announced to the sleepy campus at 7:25 AM. Someone decided to break the news to her that teenagers with any say in the matter are not awake at this hour. This was only one of about four weeks where the offenders had a say, so no one heard her. She decided she would try again later. The math teacher grumbled next to me, “They’re destroyed anyway, the guys hated that book.” I’ve never read it, but I know student behavior enough to agree. Lost in a world of her own Lucy bragged about the books she had purchased only 16 weeks before, “it was such a good book, they couldn’t put it down.” Now they were gone. I could only imagine what a librarian would’ve had to say to her at a normal school.
All I can do is laugh out loud, but inwardly I cringe because losing four books is not just naive and wasteful, it is dangerous. As trainers from adult prisons will attest, inmates can create weapons out of paper, spit, and time. True, our population usually doesn’t engage in this activity, but I would hate to have provided the tools to a prison crime. She scares me.